The Budding Green Jobs Market

Green jobs.  Everybody’s always talking about green jobs.  And while there’s little doubt that the world is going to be moving steadily forward in the direction of energy innovation and sustainability, the big question (at least in my mind) is whether there really are that many green jobs available now, in the current labor market.

To be honest, I’ve been fairly cynical about this heavily-hyped sector for a few years now, since despite all the talk about the coming “green revolution” and such, I don’t know more than a handful of people who actually hold such a job.  In fact, I know several individuals who USED to work for some “green” companies, in the alternative energy field, but they almost all ended up losing their jobs as some of these companies turned out, ironically, not to be all that sustainable, themselves.  At least in terms of their revenues and business model.

Now, though, I’m realizing that I might have been a bit ignorant about the true scope of the green employment sector.  The other day, the Puget Sound Business Journal published a comprehensive 58-page report on “Green Jobs in Washington” that talked about a number of different occupations in the region I wouldn’t initially have classified as “green” in nature, but arguably could be considered as part of this category.  If you review this report, for example, which you’ll find here, you’ll see that there are just short of 100,000 green jobs (according to some experts) in the State of Washington right now, with these roles including positions in organic farming, energy-efficient construction, government policy jobs related to the environment, and thousands of jobs related to the cleanup of nuclear waste at Hanford.  At the same time, though, the report also points out that nearly 56% of employers say that the skills of the people in green jobs are no different than those of people in non-green jobs.  So perhaps these jobs aren’t really as distinct and “new” as one initially might hope!

At any rate, since I know many of my clients are highly eco-conscious and interested in finding employment that might have a “green” aspect to it, I thought the above report might be a useful resource to review.  I also recently came across a job website called GreenJobSpider that is seeking to become the top purveyor of job listings in this emerging sector, although I haven’t yet run a detailed comparison to analyze how many leads this site might offer that aren’t already listed on the big guns, Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com.  Still, a search of GreenJobSpider in Washington State revealed 2,173 current openings, so those of you interested in this field should definitely give it a look!

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3 Responses to “The Budding Green Jobs Market”

  1. Deborah Trainor March 26, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Thanks. This is another indication that I am not been wasting my time. Thanks for pointing out these articles and sources. I have been looking at this sector for more than a year now. My first real interview was for a “green” job. Plus I have had many informational meetings for “green” jobs. Nothing has landed yet, but it is definitely possible. If you want more research, The Pew Charitable Trust has done some very deep and diligent dive into green jobs nationwide. The report is called: “The CleanEnergy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses, and Investments Across America”. Check out http://www.pewglobalwarming.org/cleanenergyeconomy/
    They even break it down by state. Being a career market analyst, I’ve checked out the research methods of this report and did some due diligence. I trust the Pew report findings. The green job market is definitely a positive for the future. It may not be immediate like we all want and need, but it is definitely coming soon.

  2. OK great article Matt and actually quite timely considering that St. Patrick’s Day just passed. I could relate to much of the content in your post because I am one of those clients who is highly eco-conscious and interested in finding employment that might have a “sustainable” and “green” aspect to it. Absolutely! Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge proponent of recycling and I’m trying to do my part to save the environment and make our world “greener”. In fact I’ve recently stopped buying zip lock baggies and now use plastic grocery bags which, incidentally, contain toxins, to store and carry all of my food (so if I’m killed via chemical poisioning, I’ll die knowing I was making a valiant effort to save the environment). Lately, however, the only “green” I’m focused on these days is the Abraham Lincolns (or lack thereof) that come to me in the form of a paycheck! And “sustainable”, to me, means any job that is not a contract position through an employment agency!!!!

    Seriously, “going green” in my world means I’m either ill or have decided to take control of my health and am now eating the required number of servings of vegetables per day according to the USDA! When I think “green”, I’m dreaming lovingly of the Ben Franklins that used to make up my 401k fund and where I’m going to GET “the greens” to put gas in my car and purchase my next meal. Now don’t get me wrong; as you can see, I fully support recycling efforts. Even though I bathe daily, I leave my bathwater in the tub three full days before draining it. And I save tons of money and have peace of mind by using concentrated, low suds, environmentally friendly dish soap to clean me AND my dishes! As a result, I now sleep peacefully every night knowing that nothing going down the drain will cause any harm to the fishies in the streams nearby – fish that will eventually be caught, gutted, purchased, filleted, and eaten by my employed friends, neighbors, and family. I guess if I wanted to be REALLY environmentally friendly and cost-conscious, I could wash the dishes in the bathwater, too, but I’m just not there yet. So don’t knock me. I’m doing the best I can with what limited resources I have available 🙂

    And how about the catch phrase “environmental sustainability”, which is defined as ‘maintaining the factors and practices that contribute to the quality of environment on a long-term basis’? In this modern-day economy, I think “environmental sustainability” would be more appropriately defined as: the ability to maintain one’s sanity while facing eviction and preparing for a possible new life and career as a gypsy, becoming dangerously malnourished due to living on Top Ramen noodles, and incorporating the sport of sprint-distance running into one’s lifestyle (to effectively evade creditors) – all while still being required to pay exorbitant taxes to the very government that has caused the crisis we are now facing. Now THAT is environmental sustainability.

    In all honestly, does an unemployed person care whether or not the job he/she lands is “green” or not right now? As long as it PAYS “the green”, it probably doesn’t matter. LOL! And shouldn’t we be publishing information on ANY jobs that are actually available in Washington instead of the “green” jobs that are, in actuality, already filled?

    I’m just saying . . . where are our priorities? 🙂

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